Softball Set To Host Iowa State Wednesday Before Traveling To Evansville This Weekend
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University softball team is set for another busy week of competition as it first hosts in-state rival Iowa State on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Ron Buel Field. The Drake Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be collecting donations for their shoe drive at the game on Wednesday. The first 50 fans that donate a gently used pair of shoes will receive a free t-shirt. Live stats and a live stream for the Iowa State game will be available at www.GoDrakeBulldogs.com.
Drake then travels to Evansville this weekend for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series. Drake and Evansville will play a doubleheader on Saturday at noon and will close the series with a single game on Sunday at noon. Live stats for the Evansville will be available here.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bulldogs finished last week with a 3-1 overall record and claimed their first conference series with two wins over Missouri State. Drake opened the week with a 5-3 win at Iowa as junior Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.) went 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two runs batted in and tossed five innings in the circle allowing just one. The Bulldogs then rallied for a 9-6 victory in the series opener against Missouri State in the first game of the doubleheader. The Bears took the second game of the doubleheader, 4-0, but Drake claimed the series with a 3-2 win on Sunday as senior Liz Buck (Overland Park, Kan.) delivered a clutch two-RBI single in a three-run fourth inning.
IOWA STATE QUICKLY
Iowa State (18-17, 1-5 Big 12) is led at the plate by sophomore Brittany Gomez with a .425 batting average, while fellow sophomore Aly Cappaert has launched a team-high nine home runs and driven in a team-high 25. In the circle, the Cyclones lean on Katie Johnson who is 17-14 with a 3.72 earned run average. The Bulldogs and the Cyclones split the season series a year ago with the home teams coming out on top in each respective contest.
Evansville (15-18, 3-8 MVC) will play at Louisville today and then have a doubleheader at Murray State on Wednesday before it hosts Drake this weekend. Drake defeated Evansville twice during the regular season in 2013, but the Purple Aces held on for a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs in the semifinals of the MVC Championship in Omaha, Neb.
Senior Amy Pierce (Olathe, Kan.) is heating up at the plate as her average as climbed to .283 on the year. This past week she collected four hits in 10 at-bats and is now fifth all-time in career hits in Drake history with 185. She passed former teammate Torey Craddock, who had 184 from 2009-2012. Kris Cox, who played from 1990-93, has the most hits in school history with 221. Pierce, who has started every game at shortstop for the Bulldogs the previous two seasons, will look to climb several other career statistical categories this year. She is among the top-10 in at-bats, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in and batting average. She is the school record holder for career stolen bases with 82 and is one run scored away from holding the school record for that category.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Pierce swiped eight stolen bases in the three games against Loyola earlier this season, including four in Drake’s 6-4 comeback win over the Ramblers. She owns the top two individual stolen base season totals in school history, nabbing 26 last season and 25 her junior campaign.
Senior Liz Buck (Overland Park, Kan.) has provided a steady hand at first base with her defense her first three seasons, but entered 2014 with a career batting average of just .189. However, this year along with her usual solid defensive skills, Buck is hitting .256 and has driven in a career-high 12 runs.
IT’S OUT OF HERE
Junior Hayley Nybo (Minnetonka, Minn.) has blasted three home runs and driven in 15 runs. Nybo has 22 career blasts, which ranks tied for third all-time in school history. Elena Leon is the school’s all-time leader in home runs with 33. Nybo recently passed Leon for fifth all-time in career RBI’s with 96.
Freshman Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.) has settled in the outfield in her first season, starting the last 24 games. Sowa leads the squad in batting average at .365, on-base percentage (.433), triples (1), runs (15), and hits (31). She is second in several other statistical categories, including stolen bases (3), doubles (5) and slugging percentage (.447).
Junior Laura Brewer (Waukee, Iowa) blistered the softball last week as she hit .615 (8-for-13) at the plate to help Drake finish with a 4-1 record. Brewer started the week with a 3-for-4 performance along with a run and a RBI against Iowa of the Big 10. She followed that with another three hits, including a key two-run home run in the opening game victory over Missouri State. Brewer finished the week with a home run, two runs scored, two doubles, three RBI, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .643 on-base percentage.
Drake travels to UNI on April 15 for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. The series between Drake and UNI was cancelled last season due to unplayable field conditions at Ron Buel Field.
Drake captured the Woo Pig Fastpitch Classic title on March 1 with a 3-1 record, including a 7-4 victory over then No. 24 Arkansas in the title game. The Bulldogs avenged a 10-6 loss to the Razorbacks in the first meeting between the teams in the two-day tournament. Drake added wins over Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin in Fayetteville. Sowa hit a blistering .545 in the classic as her average led the team, going 6-for-11 at the plate along with two runs scored and three runs batted in in the four games. The outfielder recorded four hits, two RBI and two runs scored in a pair of contests against the Razorbacks. Sowa’s big weekend in Arkansas propelled her to taking home the Missouri Valley Conference Softball Newcomer of the Week award.
DRAKE PICKED THIRD
The Bulldogs have been picked third in the Missouri Valley Conference’s annual preseason poll, the conference office announced in January. Northern Iowa, the defending MVC tournament champion, was unanimously voted number one followed by Illinois State with 83 points. Drake tallied 82 points.
DRAKE ADDS THREE IN 2014 RECRUITING CLASS
The Bulldogs inked Nicole Newman (Madison, Wis.), Kailee Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) and Kelsey Wright (Olathe, Kan.) to National Letters of Intent this past November, 2013.
Newman, a pitcher and first baseman from Madison La Follette High School, went 15-4 with a 0.44 earned run average and 311 strikeouts in the circle for the Lancers her junior season. She earned first team all-state honors and was named the Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year and the Wisconsin State Journal/Wisconsin PrepZone.com Area Player of the Year. Newman also plays basketball and earned several honors last season on the hardwood after averaging 18.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.
Smith, a versatile player who has logged time at pitcher, first base and in the outfield, is from Murrieta, Calif. A three-year letterwinner for Paloma Valley High School, she earned All Inland Valley honors her junior season after hitting .406 with six home runs and recording a 1.44 ERA in the circle.
Rounding out the class is Wright from Olathe Northwest High School who hit .581 with a .805 slugging percentage last season on her way to being named first-team all-state. A three-year letterwinner in the infield for the Ravens she helped Northwest capture the Kansas 6A state championship her freshman season.